Thursday, 10 March 2011

The cat returns

In last Friday's Daily Star, a reader's text showed how stories that aren't true can nonetheless be believed and repeated as fact:

so gamu nhengu faces deportation. tell her to...get a cat. that should do it! [sic]

It was in October 2009 when a story appeared claiming that an 'illegal immigrant' had been saved from deportation because he had a cat. It started in the Sunday Telegraph, and was then repeated by the Mail, Sun, Express and Star, and in columns by Littlejohn, Platell, Holmes and others.

Despite the man's lawyer being quoted in the original article (and explaining on this blog) that the cat was 'immaterial' to the case, the story went on and on.

And 17 months later, the Star reader's text shows some people still believe it did actually happen.

(Many thanks to the comment spotter)


  1. Well spotted! This is the kind of evidence which is really useful for backing up our arguments that the tabloid really do have a negative influence on public opinion.

  2. I get the point, but if you're going to comment on moronic comments on tabloid sites you'll be updating your blog a thousand times a minute. That there are stupid, ignorant, prejudiced people in the world, and many of them gravitate towards the internet.. well, that's news on a par with 'Daily Mail dislikes foreigners.'

  3. Neofish, you're right that people making ignorant comments on tabloid sites isn't a shock, but I think the point is that a story that was wrong 17 months ago is still perceived as being correct by some people, and erroneous negative stereotypes are being reinforced by the tabloids. Plus, the Daily Star didn't have to publish the text...

  4. Putting aside the fact that the comment is almost certainly from the Daily Star offices (I have my doubts that any tabloid actually uses real peoples quotes) this shows that even though the paper knows the story was untrue, they still choose comments like that to be printed. This just helps the lies spread like a disease.

    I get the feeling that even if the Star/NOTW/Sun/Mail/Express printed an edition in which they owned up to all of the stories they had lied about in just 1 year...people would still talk about Immigrants getting free cars, schools banning blackboards, Muslim only bathrooms etc.

  5. People who read and beleive the tabloids like the daily star just prove how bigoted and prejudiced people in our society are

  6. //People who read and believe the tabloids like the daily star just prove how bigoted and prejudiced people in our society are//

    I don't think that's necessarily true - I think otherwise normal people can be temporarily turned into such by reading these types of articles.

    Let's fact it,(mass)manipulation through the media is nothing new - I always held the view that Littlejohn is a 21st Century Goebbels for example - and is certainly not restricted to the tabloids.

    And let's not forget that all the best lies are based on elements of truth. Both the judge and the individual's brief that first mentioned the cat (as one of a - ok, large - number of mitigating factors). Frankly, part of me thinks that if the brief is desperate enough to quote it as a mitigation in the first place, and the judge is happy to go joking about it, then it's fair game for the tabloid feeding frenzy.

  7. The Prothero character from V for Vendetta is what I imagine people like Littlejohn look up to for inspiration. They probably long for the day they command that much of a following.

    What is quite alarming though is that Glenn Beck does command that sort of following in the States, as was seen by his stunt last year where tens of thousand of people gathered to watch him spew right wing bile in Washington DC.

    I would hope it wouldn't get to that stage here, but with EDL marches/numbers on the increase it's possibly only a matter of time before we have our own Glenn Beck and Littlejohn is just a TV show away from filling that role.

  8. In fairness, it's not just the tabloids that are fuelling right-wing scaremongering. I think there is a deep dissatisfaction with years of unchecked immigration and general incompetence/malaise etc etc. If you want to turn it into a chicken/egg situation, I reckon the problems started before the tabloids really degenerated.

    I live abroad, right? I divide my time between Madrid and Amsterdam. However, when I got back to visit my folks in (predominantly) Northampton, I barely recognise it. In the 10 years I've been away I see gangs (yes, gangs) of Albanians and Romanians and Kosovans and Afghans and whatevers hanging around. My brother is a policeman, God help us, in the town, and his views on immigration after what he sees on a daily basis you'd consider borderline racist/facist.

    Look around Europe - France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy. Forget the EDL - European facism is in vogue big-time. Even the traditionally liberal nations (e.g. Scandinavia) are seeing gains in right-wing politics...and I doubt that their tabloids are wholly responsible for that too.

    So, EDL marches are on the rise, but it's disingenous to say that the tabloids are really responsible for it. It' s a good analogy though - I'm sure he does fancy himself as that kind of character. One of my all-time favourite movies that - I might bang on the DVD tonight....

  9. Anonymous - Immigration is not 'unchecked' as several studies recently have shown it's much lower than people in this country actually think it is.
    As for the roving 'gangs' you claim you see in Northhampton some of those, as EU citizens, have as much right to be in Northampton as you do to be in Amsterdam and Madrid. Indeed, I would not be surprised if during your time in Madrid or Amsterdam you hang around with other English ex-pats, in what locals might describe as a gang?

  10. Illegal immigration has been monstrously unchecked over the last 10 years. It's absolute rubbish to even remotely suggest that there has either been a coherent system for immigration or that people definitely haven't been falling off the undersides of lorries/ trains etc en masse...

    Gangs - yeah right, I belong to a gang in Madrid that hangs around the bus station, selling drugs, mugging and assaulting people. What complete idiocy to equate my situation with theirs. Freedom of movement within the EU and constructive immigration are two different things, my friend.

    It's this point of view from people like you that ensures the situation won't change. In your obsession with bashing the tabloids, you are quite happy to distort, justify, or simply ignore the truth yourself. All I can is enjoy it - not my problem any more. I hope your happy about legions of dispossessed peoples arriving and surviving from crime and intimidation.

  11. Most of the immigrants who come here do so looking for work and to contribute to society. Yes there are a few who come and do nothing, but it is by no means the majority, not even close. I'd imagine there are far more Pensioners from the UK who live in Spain, France or Italy who refuse to learn the language and obviously do not work, paying little if any tax to support the services they require.

    Couple that with the large amount of Stag and Hen parties that descend on Eastern European cities, or the thousands of pissed up clubbers in the Med causing extra strain on those countries police and health services and I'd imagine that these "Roving gangs" are nowhere near as much of a nuisance as we are overseas.

    My point is that we need to look at ourselves and our actions abroad before we can complain about people who come here. We can't expect every immigrant to respect our culture when so many of us make no effort whatsoever to respect others, even when we're only being asked to do ao for a fortnight every July.

  12. (shakes head in bemusement)

  13. ^Is that referring to my post? If so then please tell me why so many British emigrants are exempted from respecting other cultures when immigrants here are all supposed to respect ours?

  14. Yes, it is. And no, I have no interest in telling you why. It's not relevant - you're trying to argue against a point I haven't made. It's got nothing to do with respect/culture. For us rational people, there's a world of difference between a British retiree moving to Spain on a pension and some Albanian pickpocket falling off the axle of a truck in Dover in order to start plying his trade in Covent Garden.

    If you're asking me if those retirees should respect local colour and flavour in Andalusia, then I'll agree with you, but you're comparing apples/oranges on the immigration front.

    All I'm saying is there has been huge amounts of uncontrolled immigration to the UK over the last 10 years, and the number of crimes committed by those immigrants has increased exponentially.

    And there has. Fact.

  15. The cat is also recycled by the Taxpayers' Alliance as part of a report about the costs of the ECHR (see 2nd point on page 6 "The deportation of an illegal immigrant was reportedly halted in part as he had formed a bond with a pet.")


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